The folks at DefendChristians.Org asked their readers to list their top ten “anti-Christian acts of 2011.” The list is filled with the usual right wing “religious liberty” outrages including the shutting down of Bible studies and people being fired from their jobs for supporting “traditional marriage.”
Gays and lesbians round out the top two “anti-Christian” acts of the year:
2) President Obama declared June “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month” and hosted a White House celebration by homosexuals.
1) California Governor Jerry Brown signs a bill forcing public school curriculum and textbooks to “celebrate” homosexuals, transgenders and bisexuals.
The list is not shocking, given the ultraconservative bent of the Web site, but it does beg the question of what kind of acts should be considered “anti-Christian.” In my study of the Bible and its portrayal of the life of Jesus, I can’t seem to find any passages where Jesus talks about gay people, or public schools, or any of the things this group is up in arms about. Instead, I find a dirt poor homeless preacher traveling from town to town telling people to love their enemies, give to the poor and needy, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and find ways to unite with each other instead of constantly bickering about who is God’s favorite.
So, in that spirit, I present my own list of “The Top 10 Anti-Christian Acts of 2011,” in no particular order.
1. The poverty rate in America rose to 15.1% in 2010, its highest level since 1993. In 2009, 14.3% of people in America were living in poverty.
2. While the Iraq war may have officially ended, at least 10 wars are ongoing around the globe, causing more than 1,000 deaths per year.
4. While overall crime rates have dropped around the U.S., hate crimes continue to be a problem. Despite the noise being made by the religious right that they are the victims of religious persecution, it’s Jews who top the list of victims of religious hate crimes. Nearly 72% of religiously motivated hate crimes are directed at Jews with Protestants being targeted 2.7% of the time. In the race category, the religious right’s favorite scapegoat, Latinos are the most popular, but gay men are the target nearly 60% of the time for sexual orientation hate crimes.
5. There was a 3% rise in the number of homeless people from 2008 to 2009, while “31 of 50 states and the District of Columbia – had increases in their homeless counts. The largest increase was in Louisiana, where the homeless population doubled.”
6. Statistics show that 9 out of 10 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender children are bullied at school. That bullying has caused numerous suicides of gay teens over the past two years. Religious organizations have been out front in defending the bullies and opposing measures that would specifically name sexual orientation in anti-bullying laws. In Michigan, religious groups almost got an exemption for religious beliefs, which would have given them unbridled power to bully LGBT children in the name of God.
7. The income gap continued to grow in 2011 with the richest 10% controlling two-thirds of America’s net worth.
10. The vandalism of a gay-inclusive nativity scene at a church in Claremont, California and a Christmas-themed billboard at St. Matthew in the City in Auckland, New Zealand continues to show that Christians of all stripes can’t seem to understand Jesus’ command to love each other. The billboard in Auckland, which showed the Virgin Mary gasping over a positive pregnancy test, particularly incensed Catholics, who made a public display of their vandalism.
My partner and I often play a game called, “So, what I hear you saying is …” In this game, we take a statement and turn it into something completely opposite of what the other person said. For instance, if my partner says, “I like the way you fill out those jeans,” I would reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, I’m fat and need to drop a few pounds.” Or, if I tell my partner, “I love doing things for you,” she may reply, “So, what I hear you saying is, you think I’m high maintenance.”
The folks over at the National Organization for Marriage know this game we play very, very well. NOM has always been known for turning what an opponent says completely on its head in an effort to make themselves look better and their opponent worse. So, it’s no shock that NOM, which only has a passing relationship with the truth, plays this little game while trying to get in a personal attack on me.
Their first shot across the bow is to be too lazy to actually fact check how to spell my name. There is one “o” in my name, not two. It’s Chellew-Hodge – two “e’s,” and one “o.” Hello, cut and paste is your friend!
Then, they get on to their “So, what I hear you saying is …” portion of the game by quoting a piece I wrote in Religion Dispatches:
“To win civil rights, one of the last steps is to make it shameful to be against the rights of the group fighting for recognition.”
Anyone who is not bent on reading demonization and hatred into every little thing written about them would find that sentence quite clear. But in their little game of “So, what I hear you saying is …” the sentence apparently means “it must become ‘shameful’ for people to believe that children deserve a mother and a father, and that marriage is between one man and one woman.”
Not even close.
Instead, since they can’t fathom my meaning, let me spell it out simply for them (Note to NOM, read slowly and several times if you must for it to sink in):
I am saying that marriage rights for gays and lesbians will be won when those who oppose it are shamed by their belief that gay and lesbian couples are somehow “less than” a heterosexual couple raising children. No one should ever be shamed for believing children deserve a mother and a father – hell, I wish my own childhood had not been destroyed by the heterosexual shame of divorce. Every child deserves two parents – or even one parent – who loves them beyond all measure, who provides for them, and is dedicated to raising them with integrity and pride in who they are.
What is shameful is that anyone would deny a child the love (and the protection of that child that marriage currently offers) to any set of parents simply because of the gender mix of said parents.
So, NOM, what I hear you saying is that the only way you can make your argument look good is to distort and lie about the arguments of your opponents.
Jay Bakker is the son of famous television evangelists Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. He grew up on the PTL (or Praise the Lord) club, and suffered terribly when his parents empire fell. Turning to drugs and partying eased the pain for awhile, but now Jay is out with a new book that describes not so much his fall “from” grace, but his fall to grace. Jay explains his “grace evolution.”
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Posted by: Lori Heine
Now that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” may be, at long last, on its way out, LGBT Christians must do more than merely rejoice. There is work for us to do yet.
Christians have been a big part of the reason why the grievously discriminatory policy of DADT was such a linchpin of military “discipline” in the first place. Chaplains in the armed services have largely — and vociferously — supported it. But gay and lesbian servicepeople tend, like most of the young folks who enlist, to be among the most religious and responsible members of society at large. There aren’t a lot of wild hedonists interested in risking their lives for their country.
For straight Christians to treat all gays and lesbians like aliens bearing some evil pox from outer space is a grave injustice. It is a shameful slander. The integration of the military cannot be completed while the integration of the churches remains a work undone.
If, indeed, we are to enjoy a new openness in the military ranks, it must not be only the opportunity to show photos of our families or mention our spouse’s name. It must also allow us to share our faith — and specifically what it means to us as gays and lesbians. This will be an important witness, but it will not be easy. The sad fact is that many of those most likely to bully and harrass us for our openness will likely be straight Christians. Many of whom come from backgrounds where we are still vehemently hated and feared.
Those of us who are willing to serve in spite of this will still need all the boldness and courage they can muster. In some ways, with the lifting of the ban on our open service, the battle has only just begun. LGBT Christians all over America need to be aware of the task that still stands ahead of us. We can be of tremendous help by showing support for those brave young people in a variety of creative ways.
Through our welcoming churches, we can send care packages filled with comforts from home. We can send letters to buoy spirits weighted by the worries of war. We can, perhaps, even adopt a soldier whose family might not be supportive. And by all means, we can monitor how our friends in uniform are treated. We — speaking out as LGBT Christians — can hold chaplains to their responsibility to represent Christ to ALL who serve.
Opportunities abound for us to be helpful. We can truly support the troops by helping to support our own: bearing the rainbow flag right alongside the Stars and Stripes. If DADT is really ending, we have reason to celebrate. But in its wake, we must not rest too soon.
Posted by: Lori Heine
All these studies and surveys about the effects of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell serve only to show one thing — something largely missed by the media and most of the public. They show how truly irrational many people still are about homosexuality. They’ve gotten ahold of the wrong end of the stick. We’re all supposed to worry about the reaction of bullies and bigots who fear gays. It never occurs to the hysterics to worry about the problem that actually underlies the bullying and the bigotry.
What the military has is a crisis of discipline. It is afraid it can’t make straights who fear gays behave. It is really not the behavior of gays that is causing the problem at all. We are being scapegoated because we are a minority, and minorities are always easy to blame. But in so doing, our military succumbs to a cowardice shamefully unbecoming to an organization built on courage.
It is like being afraid to leave your house because of the giant, carnivorous lavender rabbit you’re sure must wait outside. You must refuse all invitations to go anywhere, and warn all visitors away, because of that big, evil bunny. You must sneak out the back way and tiptoe past the threat if you wish to venture beyond the confines of your house. There is no meat-eating rabbit out there in reality, and all the sane people in your life wonder why you’re so afraid. But though they keep telling you otherwise, you refuse to believe them, crouching inside and peeking out the windows to catch a glimpse of the evil monster lurking there.
The military, and the bigots who encourage such nonsense, believe in the carnivorous lavender rabbit. At least their behavior is every bit as irrational as if they did.
It is, at root, the same problem we face in our schools. The “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere that pervades them is not caused by gay kids being themselves. It is, in fact, a lack of discipline. Conservatives should understand this better than anyone else. But in their panic, they have lost sight of reason.
If no one else can get them to be reasonable, LGBT Christians should certainly do our best. Jesus Christ exhorted His followers to overcome fear with love and understanding. That anti-gay Christians lead the charge into the hysteria now gripping the military is a scandal and a disgrace. They must be told to buck up and stop the freakout. They can’t go on persuading others to believe in their Savior when they clearly aren’t willing to trust in Him themselves.
They seem to think they can do nothing about the skinheads, or gang-bangers, or Nazis, or convicted criminals in their ranks. They’d rather pick on the gays, not because we are really frightening but because they’re actually more afraid of the mayhem they’ve let loose in our armed services. They want to appease the thugs because those troublemakers are holding them hostage. “We mustn’t make waves,” they claim, “because we’ll make them angry — and then they’ll REALLY show us!”
Who’s really in charge, here? Is it the thugs — or We, the People? Polls overwhelmingly show that the people think gays should be able to openly serve. It’s time to drive that giant lavender rabbit back into the darkness where nightmares belong.
- The birth control pill is celebrating 50 years of giving women control over their own bodies – but that doesn’t mean everyone wants the pill to stick around. A conglomeration of anti-abortion groups will protest the pill on June 5. Not because they oppose contraception because it prevents pregnancy – but because it harms the environment. Who knew these folks were such tree-huggers?
- American Idol ratings are apparently headed downward – but don’t blame the bad singers and performers. It’s all Ellen DeGeneres’ fault, because she likes girls instead of boys and God can’t let a program succeed with a lesbian on it – like, say, a popular daytime talk show.
- Bryan Fischer at the American Family Association is one scary dude. He thinks Jesus was a capitalist and would sign Arizona’s immigration law “in a heartbeat.” Now, he’s doing the scripture twist on Numbers 25 to advocate killing anyone he considers “sexually immoral” – like, y’know, gay people. So much for that “love your neighbor as yourself” crap.
- Rick Warren tells “fake Christians” to get out of his church. Good news for Warren, all that property Saddleback owns should fetch a nice price for him to retire on.
-Posted by Candace Chellew-Hodge
Posted By: Lori Heine
Most of us remember the Pepsi commercial showing a scene from the 1960 movie, “Spartacus.” One by one the slaves revolt, standing up and declaring “I’m Spartacus!” Kirk Douglas looks on with a tear in his eye, drinking his Pepsi in inspiration.
It worked for the rebels who stood up for Pepsi. I think it could work, as well, for the churches that say they want to welcome us wholeheartedly but don’t dare.
Whether the designation is called “Open and Affirming,” “Welcoming and Affirming,” “Reconciling in Christ” or whatever, only a brave few congregations in mainline denominations are coming out in full support of us. Many say they want to, yet timidly demur because they would face punishment from their denomination. How can this nonsense be ended?
I think we can, indeed, take a lesson from the friends of Spartacus. What if all the churches that really want to support full LGBT inclusion got together and stood as one? There’s no way a denomination would dare to persecute them if they took it on this way. They couldn’t discipline that many congregations at once without revealing themselves to be the bullies and tyrants they are.
We should, by all means, suggest this. We could call it the “I’m Spartacus” movement. There is strength and courage in numbers, and if all our allies stood together, they would be invincible.
“We welcome them!” one congregation would say. “So do we,” another would proudly second. “Us, too!” a third would chime right in. Before any steps could be taken to squash the declaration, all the true hearts of our allies would be revealed.
Why did it take a “mad man” (or woman) in New York City to think up such a bold idea? It’s been right under the churches’ noses all along.
“I’m Spartacus!” Think about it. In our community around this world, we have already discovered what unity and solidarity can do.
By: Candace Chellew-Hodge
Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like 2009 really just got underway, then Christmas hit me upside the head. Anyone else experiencing that? This year really seems to have flown right by.
I remember when I was kid, it was like Christmas would never come – the months just dragged on. As a child, time just does that – it drags. Kids are eager to celebrate their next birthday. They’re never five or six, they’re five and a half or six and three quarters. They’re always marking time in ways adults never do. I happen to celebrate anniversaries of my 39th birthday. Next year will be my five year anniversary.
When I reflect on this past year, however, I realize that I have done something I hate more times than I have ever done it before – fly in an airplane. I loathe flying, but because you can’t promote a book without making live, rock-star like, appearances, I have flown on more planes this year than I have ever flown in over the previous 40 some odd years – and believe me, there have been some odd years.
I’ve been everywhere it seems, Canada, California, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio – the list goes on. Over the weeks and months that I flew, however, takeoffs and landings got easier. There really was only one flight that was incredibly bumpy and uncomfortable, and another trip that took nearly 12 hours when it should have taken five, but all in all, I give a thumbs up to our air transportation system.
It hit me this week, though, that right now, each and every one of us is in flight. We’re all aboard a blue and green spaceship, hurtling through the galaxy. Every 365 days we complete our annual circle around the sun – a day we mark with celebration, with a renewed sense of ourselves, with a determination to make the next 365 days the very best that we can.
Sometimes, on this constant flight around the sun, though, I feel like I missed the safety demonstration. Though, before this year’s successful dieting plan, my seat could have certainly served as a floatation device. But, years can be rough on us – the turbulence can knock us around as we experience despair, anger, frustration, loss, or grief in our lives.
The year can also be good to us, like we’re sitting in first class, being served champagne and caviar. The joys, the triumphs, the good fortune, the dreams that come true – they come to us in equal measure throughout each year.
As we fly together on our blue green spaceship we see it all – the hunger and the plenty, the joy and the despair, the triumph and the defeat, the greed and the generosity, the new lives beginning and other lives passing away. Life aboard our spaceship is one of both bitter and sweet, of blessing and curse, of sacred and profane.
What stays consistent is God’s presence through it all – even in those times when we feel like God has abandoned us – God remains present in the air we breathe, the food we eat, the friends and family we love, and even within the very bodies that God has blessed us with.
As we approach this New Year, I invite you to find new ways to connect with the holy and with each other. I invite you to remember that we need one another – because none of us is flying solo on this blue green spaceship called Earth.
Happy New Year!
Here he comes again…that robust, jolly fellow with his sleigh full of gifts!
We all know (spoiler alert!) that Santa isn’t “real.” That our gifts really come from people who love us. But in their own way, they, too, are a manifestation of the love that started it all — the love from which all human love proceeds: the love of God, revealed to us in the Baby Jesus.
The love of God, in this world, must be made real largely through human beings. That’s exactly what Jesus was born to show us two thousand years ago.
Most of us won’t get a lump of coal in our stocking this Christmas. God has been good to us, even in this difficult year. That was not always true for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Christians — or so it seemed. For most of those two thousand years, amid the colorfully-wrapped packages, there was a lump of coal to remind us that our love — our very being — was not counted quite as real to other people as that of our straight brothers and sisters.
Here in Phoenix, where I live, there are still many LGBT young people who have no cozy home at Christmas. Tossed out of their homes by families who don’t understand them, they must do the rest of their growing up on the streets, where life is cold and hard.
My church wanted them to know they were still loved by God at Christmas. We took up a collection — successful beyond our wildest dreams — and bought the homeless LGBT teens in our city shoes, socks, blankets and personal care items this year. They were distributed through our local organization for LGBT youth.
Somewhere near you, a child still shivers in the cold. We may not be able to bring her or him “silver and gold,” as the carol proclaims, but we can, perhaps, spare some change so they might have some tangible evidence God loves them.
One surprisingly simple gesture may mean more to them than all the frankincense and myrrh in the world.
There are ways to help them throughout the year. Your local LGBT community center would be glad to help coordinate any effort you might make on their behalf.
Merry Christmas and a happy 2010 from all of us at Whosoever.
Posted by: Lori Heine
Well, the dark forces have prevailed again, this time in Maine. Voters there, by a narrow margin, vetoed marriage rights for same-sex couples.
The narrowness of our loss is not much comfort. The “Yuck” Vote strikes again.
Basically, the argument of the anti-equality crowd was the same as always: “Eeeewww, those scary, icky gays wanna do WHAT?!”
Though they try to cloak their revulsion in religious terms, in truth it has nothing to do with moral rectitude.
Straights have been obsessed with sex for at least the last forty years. They have shown — time and time again — that NOTHING: not their own marriages, not their human dignity, not even their supposedly-so-precious children, is as important to them as their own gratification. Which must neither be delayed nor dampened by anybody.
Especially the likes of us.
Everyone and everything must please them. Must entertain them. Because, you know, for them it is always all about themselves.
This is the deep, dark heart of why these people behave as they do. We have cramped their self-indulgent style. Instead of the sexual, sensual “yum” for which they so voraciously hunger, we — quite unforgivably — make them go “yuck.”
It isn’t their sterling morality we violate by wanting to marry for love and properly care for our loved ones. It is their demand for — their obsession with — their own, insatiable pleasure.
Marriage is never what they cared about. It is their own fun. Quite simply, we bum their trip.
They protest that they don’t like imagining “what we do” in bed. Inquiring minds must ask, why do they spend so much time imagining it in the first place? We never invited them on that trip; they took it on their own.
We need to stop allowing these sexual obsessives to hide behind their make-believe morality. THEY are the ones who want the issue of our marriages to be about sex. WE are the ones who want it to be about something much, much more.
Until we reveal our tormentors’ twisted little psyches for what they really are, we will not be able to give our love the protection it deserves.